What does AEMO's disregard of CSP in Australia mean? Is this omission a blunder?

July 20, 2022 | Case Study

Australia plans to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by putting its eggs in various baskets, like solar power, wind energy, and lithium-ion batteries, as declared in its 2021 long-term emissions reduction plan. Moreover, Australia's investments in renewable energy technologies will be supported by the decommissioning of coal-fired thermal power plants, which is the need of the hour since the country's energy demands today are primarily met by burning coal. As Australia moves toward intermittent energy sources like solar and wind, the emphasis on the need for controllable energy generation sources and energy storage media goes up. Factors that can help Australia with this problem include its abundant natural resources like uranium (for nuclear power) and access to hydropower that can continuously generate electricity. Even though nuclear energy will not be a preferred path, as there are several political and social consequences to its use, there is serious consideration about hydropower and pumped-hydro storage (e.g., the Snowy 2.0 project). Besides the use of pumped-hydro systems, concentrated solar power (CSP) systems offer a great solution not just to produce green energy but also to store it when coupled with thermal energy storage, thanks to Australia's excellent solar energy potential. Recognizing the need for various renewable technologies, the Energy Security Board (ESB) intends to introduce a capacity mechanism that will enable the country's smooth transition to renewables, during which it will be aided by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

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